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US doubts UN report on Israel's Gaza war crimes.

Summary: The United States has "serious concerns" about a U.N. investigator's report accusing Israel and Palestinians of war crimes during their Gaza war, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations

The United States has "serious concerns" about a U.N. investigator's report accusing Israel and Palestinians of war crimes during their Gaza war, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.

"The United States is reviewing very carefully what is a very lengthy document," Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters. South African jurist Richard Goldstone unveiled the report in New York this week.

"We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report," Rice said. The Goldstone commission said both the Israeli army and Palestinian fighters had committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the December-January war in the Gaza Strip. It said both had terrorized and killed civilians.

It urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the allegations to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if either Israel or Palestinian authorities failed to investigate and prosecute those suspected of such crimes within six months.

Israel had criticized the investigation from the start and refused to cooperate with a mission whose mandate it said was "clearly one-sided." Both Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas rejected the 575-page document.

Goldstone's mission was organized by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, a body Israel and the United States have long criticized for what they say is its anti-Israeli bias.

"Kangaroo court"

Earlier this year, the United States successfully ran for a seat on the council, vowing to try to change the U.N. rights body from within. Under President Barack Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, the United States had boycotted the panel.

Israel has rejected international criticism of an offensive it said was launched to curb Hamas rocket attacks on its towns. Israel says it is investigating allegations, but has not yet found cause to prosecute any of its soldiers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the report as a "kangaroo court," saying it was biased from the start.

The report was "a kangaroo court; it was fixed from the start," Netanyahu told Israel's privately-owned Channel Two television, speaking publicly for the first time on the report.

Netanyahu called on the international community to condemn the report, which reserved some of its harshest language for the actions taken by Israel against the civilian population in the densely populated Gaza Strip.

"The report encourages terrorism and undermines the natural right of states to defend themselves," Netanyahu said.

Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denied that Israeli forces committed atrocities during the Gaza war, describing the report as "hypocrisy."

But Goldstone rejected Israeli criticism that it was biased. "I deny that completely," Goldstone said in remarks broadcast on public radio.

"I was completely independent, nobody dictated any outcome, and the outcome was a result of the independent inquiries that our mission made," he said.

Obama might meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly next week to restart stalled peace talks.

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Publication:Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)
Date:Sep 16, 2009
Words:531
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